Rocky Mountains Colorado

Conditions and Procedures

Treatment and Surgery for Gallbladder Disorders

GallbladderThe gallbladder is an organ that stores bile.  Bile is a substance made by the liver that helps us digest food in the intestine.  Several types of gallbladder disorders are common and cause a variety of issues. 

Gallstones

Most gallbladder disorders arise due to gallstones.  Gallstones are hardened balls of bile that may clog important ducts preventing the flow of bile.  This can cause symptoms ranging from mild abdominal pain and nausea to severe pain and life-threatening conditions. 

Gallbladder pain is usually in the upper right or middle abdomen.  Patients also often experience bloating, nausea, diarrhea or constipation.  Gallbladder pain is typically progressive in frequency and severity.  Fatty, rich and spicy foods will often cause a gallbladder attack.  An ultrasound is typically used to diagnose gallstones.

No Gallstones?  Still may be your gallbladder…

Until recently, doctors thought that all gallbladder disease was due to stones.  We now know that many people have no gallstones, but have a dysfunctional gallbladder.  Patients may have very similar symptoms to gallstone disease with a dysfunctional gallbladder.  This is called biliary dyskinesia. Biliary dyskinesia may be due to either an under-functioning or over-functioning gallbladder.  A special test called a HIDA is used to determine how well your gallbladder functions.

Both gallstones and biliary dyskinesia are treated by with gallbladder surgery.  This is almost always done by a surgeon laparoscopically with three small incisions.  Many patients will have their gallbladders surgically removed and be discharged home the same day. 

Many people have suffered for years with gallbladder pain without realizing that it was the problem.  If you have any upper abdominal pain, discuss this possibility with your doctor.